It’s a given that the number of older people available for work is set to grow over the next few years. Over the 10 year period to 2022, it is estimated that there will be an extra 3.7 million workers between 50 and State Pension age, whilst conversely, there will be fewer young people entering the world of work. Our engagement with employers confirm that they understand the demographic changes, but ill-conceived perception and bias in the recruitment environment can create barriers for older workers.

Many businesses and organisations planning their strategies for sustainability and growth should be considering a full and balanced view of the resource market, that includes: recruitment without bias, across all age groups; and a plan that is structured with training and development opportunities for all employees, whatever their age.

Unfortunately, some of the myths and perceptions about ability and productivity of older people remain, but research and evidenced based data clearly shows no reduction in productivity in relation to age, and that having a mix of ages, actually increases productivity.

The perception and issue around flexible working also needs to be addressed. This is not an issue that only applies to older people. Yes, it’s true that this age demographic may want to have a flexible working pattern, but in todays’ society, the goals of a more even work-life balance, and to achieve a higher sense of well-being, are sought across all age groups. Whether that is for a family with young children, a student enhancing their academic skills, or for someone who is going through a re-training process. Offering flexibility provides more opportunities for a happier and healthier work-force that will aid improvement to productivity levels.

The largely untapped older demographic market can also contribute to filling gaps in sectors where there are skills shortages, such as engineering. New patterns of flexible working, mentoring younger employees, adapting working conditions and a better approach to training could all help to stem the loss of skilled and capable people….experience and skills that businesses and the economy can ill afford to lose. Employers need to consider a joined-up strategic approach for a multi-generational environment to ensure that knowledge and know-how is retained and effectively passed on through the work-force.

Government policy over recent years has been heavily focused towards the plight of the NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and the younger unemployed, whilst the needs and aspirations of the older worker seeking employment, have been widely neglected.

Many times, we hear from employers that, although ‘age’ figures in their diversity agenda, it does not have a place in their strategy. It’s great that such employers recognise age in the diversity agenda, and we want to make the transition to effective behaviours for age diversity as easily accessible as possible, for all organisations……….and that’s where ‘Champion Age Diversity’ can support employers to ensure they take, at least, initial steps towards governance and policy implementation.

The over-arching ‘Champion’ criteria for retention, re-training and recruitment, form the basis of a commitment that is a first step towards an age diverse vision. The other good news for employers, is that the criteria offers flexibility in it’s application, that means it is applicable to any organisation, in any sector, in any industry.

Applying a focus towards age, can also help consolidate, and have an effective, and efficient, impact to other inclusion agenda, after all, there should be no age barriers to gender balance, LGBT, and BAME objectives, as examples.

It’s time to ’Champion Age Diversity’, but not just because “it’s a nice thing to do”…..but because it makes sound, strategic sense… order to: provide a positive, social impact; improve staff morale and well-being; whilst raising productivity and performance.

Steve Anderson/Founder/Prime Candidate